Archive for September, 2009

Airwave Mind Control

The desperate and ludicrous Jim Corr gets wheeled out to pour fourth his paranoid trash about the ‘Hegelian dialectic’ in order to keep the people of this country as stupid and ignorant as possible. The point of his increasingly regular outings is to lend his interviewers’ programmes a veneer of rationality and worldliness, and give the audience a feeling of knowing complicity, so that the interviewers can proceed with their usual business of conducting rigorous question and answer sessions in line with the ideas of the ruling class, with the audience feeling sufficiently clued up to buy up all the other strangled pups of the intellect that today’s radio programming has to offer.

Counting Not The Cost Thereof

Lenihan taking a gamble but it’s only a small one – Analysis, Opinion –

The question is, will the loans be worth €54bn in 10 years’ time? If they are, there is no cost to the taxpayer. If they are not, there will be a cost. If they should turn out to be worth more, the taxpayer will gain. It may not, however, be the most important question.

I don’t get into the mechanics of economics on this blog, because I’m very conservative about how much I actually know about them. But if I take the fire extinguisher to the burning wheelie bins of my mind for a moment and attempt to recall one of the first things I learnt in economics class, the matter of opportunity cost looms rather large reading the above sentences.

A good illustration of opportunity cost comes from this example by libertarian economist Tyler Cowen, of the man who spent one year in the business of trading one red paperclip for a house.

Kyle traded his way up through a fish pen, a Coleman stove, a generator, a snowmobile, a van, one year’s free rent in Phoenix, an afternoon with rock star Alice Cooper, and finally to the house, one year later.

That sounds impressive, but was it worth the time and trouble? The answer is yes, but not for the reasons we might think.

Judging from the local real estate market, Kyle’s house is worth about $50,000. Why didn’t Kyle just go out and buy a house? Surely such a smart and able person could have spent the year working at a good job. Even if Kyle would not have earned much his first year, he would, over time, likely attain a much higher wage. A good floor trader on a commodities exchange can become a millionaire. A good salesman can, on commission, earn more than a company president. The cost of Kyle’s trading is not what he could have earned his first year, but rather what he could have earned in that one missing year from the latter part of his career. I’ll hazard a guess that is more than $100,000, or in other words, more than the value of the house.

So, with regard to NAMA, even if the loans are worth more than €54bn in 10 years’ time, following the logic of opportunity cost, that does not mean that there is no cost to the taxpayer, since the cost to the taxpayer really ought to be measured in terms of what could have been done with that €54bn during the ten year period. I will leave the calculations of how that €54bn could otherwise have been used up to you.

But, with regard to NAMA, why focus on the taxpayer? Joan Burton was on the radio yesterday talking about how the Labour party’s interest was in protecting the taxpayer. It was as though the function of government were that of a private investment agency and the taxpayer’s role that of the investor, which I suppose is not so surprising in a place where the notion of the country as an incorporated enterprise -Ireland Inc- is commonplace among politicians and media. There are lots of problems with this paradigm, not least the fact that there are lots of citizens who would not fall under the rubric of ‘taxpayer’, but who will nonetheless be directly affected by the decision to fork out €54bn on property loans. Most of them are under 18, and a substantial number of them aren’t born yet. Perhaps their economics teachers will point to their dilapidated schools as an illustration of the concept of opportunity cost.

Robbery And Other Pursuits

The point of introducing NAMA legislation is this. Investors don’t give a rat’s ass about what it is like to live and work in Ireland: they want relative certainty that they will get a return on their investments. That a generation gets plunged into economic stagnation and debt peonage is neither good nor bad in their eyes: it simply forms a certain basis for making predictions on investment returns. Making the value of built property a central concern of national economic activity may be very bad news for most of the people living there, but that of itself isn’t much of a problem to the calculations of investors, since a heavily indebted workforce is a docile workforce, and the prospect of squeezing labour further never posed much of a problem to robber barons of any nationality. It is tempting to characterise this instance of the party in government’s passionate intensity to built property as Fraggle Rock’s Doozers Do Metaphysics, but that does an injustice to how acutely they grasp the needs of the local members of the class whose interests they serve most faithfully.

Doublecritical Hippothink

Hypocritical doublethink, according to Sarah Carey, is what happens when you bring a case to court but you don’t like the state, in this particular case, the European Union. The fact that Robert Ballagh depended on European law to get a droit de suite principle implemented in Ireland apparently precludes him from engaging in legitimate opposition to Lisbon. Applying this ‘logic’ to Ireland, it means I have no grounds for opposing NAMA because I have a tap with running water in the house. Or, with specific reference to Lisbon, I should vote Yes because I once flew Ryanair. Whatevah.

On Bumper Car Swans

I left this comment at the Cedar Lounge Revolution the other day. It’s a Seamus Heaney poem that came to me in a dream after I read the Observer report on his Lisbon intervention. I woke up with slabbers all over the keyboard and a man at the door wanting to clean my windows. I reproduce it here for your edification or otherwise.

In Italy, On The Event Of The First Lisbon Referendum Result

Only supposed
To blow the bloody doors off

The job
Has run aground

Splinters pick at Barney Hamill’s hand
The spade strikes bone

A plaster San Sebastian
glares askance

On the bumper car swans
Breaking the arms and bread
Of Europe’s expanse

The fairground carry-on
On the furrowed brow of Toner’s Hill
Has Ugolino making a pig of himself
On shards of candy floss
At the bottom of the loaning.

As a poem, it is terrible, I realise that.

The One And Óglaigh

Tip-off led to Armagh bomb find – The Irish Times – Fri, Sep 11, 2009

The PSNI has said the device was designed to kill officers patrolling the area. No group has admitted responsibility so far but it is believed that one of the two factions of the Real IRA, possibly the group that goes under the name “Óglaigh na hÉireann”, was behind the planned ambush.

Recently in Armagh I saw a carved sign attached to a telegraph pole, in the style of the old signs that read IRA vertically, but instead of IRA it read ONH. I am not an Irish language expert, so it is hardly up to me to talk about what is appropriate, but two of those letters do not refer either to nouns, verbs or adjectives. One refers to a preposition, and the other to an aspiration. Clearly there is no standard practice at stake here, so I do not wish to be too critical. However, given the fact that two thirds of the letters refer to nothing specifically meaningful, one is inclined to acknowledge that this is a particularly poor example of an effective acronym.

WAG entails a preposition too, but the ‘And’ in Wives And Girlfriends is a fundamentally important element of the object under representation. That is, a combination of Wives and And and Girlfriends delivers a particular, singular unity (the WAG) which ceases to exist when the ‘And’ is omitted. ‘WAG’ then exists as a word of its own, but this is impossible with ‘WG’, except perhaps in Welsh.

My initial suspicion, however, that this was the imitation of an acronym first used by the NIO, would appear to be unfounded.


Phoblacht: Those who planted the bomb in Omagh have made it clear they are not part of your organisation, why do they persist with the claim to the title Oglaigh na hEireann?

ONH: The erroneous claim by these people to be Oglaigh na hEireann is a good indicator of exactly what they are about and the motivation behind their actions. Prior to their defection they were given the opportunity at an army convention to put their analysis to delegates elected by and representing the entire membership of Oglaigh na hEireann. Their views on future strategy and direction were rejected by the vast majority of those delegates.

So it would seem that the ‘Real IRA’ have also claimed to be Óglaigh na hÉireann in the past. The question then arises if the group presently claiming to be Óglaigh na hÉireann is the group that formerly claimed to be Óglaigh na hÉireann, or if it is a new group. That is, is ONH really TGFBKWKAONH (that is, the group formerly but not widely known as Óglaigh na hÉireann)?

Open Letter To A Visionary

Dear Tony Quinn,

Thank you for your copy of Blueprint Magazine. I have to say, it landed on my mat yesterday like a breath of fresh air. I agree 100% with what you are saying about how now in Ireland it seems as though success has become politically incorrect once more. It seems that unless we take control of ourselves, we will lose forever the winning mentality that gave rise to the Celtic Tiger. I sincerely believe that this is the most important struggle to be fought in the history of our nation. If people during the famine era had shown even half the winning mentality on display during the Celtic Tiger years, the outcome of the famine would have been totally different. If ever there was a historical event crying out for the successful application of mind technology, that was it!

I watched Brian Cowen on the Late Late Show the other night. If only there was a leader who inspired more vigour, more vitality. I think he could do with a spell at one of your Educogyms! Seriously though, I think you have a real role to play as we seek to get out of our present predicament. As you say, it is now as though success had become politically incorrect. Too much nay-saying and negativity. However, I chide myself for saying so, because there is really no point in making negative observations all the time! I shall also forgive myself for chiding myself just now, and move on!

As you probably know, there is a vote on the Lisbon Treaty coming up. All this focus on minor detail, sniping and cat-calling is really getting to me. If only our politicians could come together and run institutions lean and efficient enough to ratify the Lisbon Treaty without all the petty consultations and fretting. There is so much flab in our body politic, and it is making us sluggish and irritable. I bet the Bahamas, where you live so successfully, had no problem ratifying the Lisbon Treaty!

There is something truly inspirational about your drive to do for mind technology what Bill Gates has done for computers. So I am wondering. We have had people like the head of the successful Intel business talking about how we should say yes to Lisbon, and that is great, since if there is one thing we need now, it is successful business leaders to tell us what we need to do. But while they might have drive in abundance, I don’t think they have the knowledge and insight to inspire people properly. Has the head of Intel coached a world-champion Irish boxer? I don’t think so!

Let me get to the point. I think the time is right for you to make an intervention on the Lisbon Treaty. Here in Ireland, we are acting out a ‘civil war’, both on the streets and within our selves. We need to fashion an Ireland that is ‘stronger and more powerful to overcome the civil war and to rule unopposed’, as your ‘Dare To Be Free’ guidelines succinctly put it. I hope you will permit me the liberty of suggesting that we take a leaf out of your book. What you suggest we do for our Selves, we must do for Ireland. To paraphrase your ‘Dare To Be Free’ guidelines, we have to heal those huge divisions in Ireland, we must become one – just one Ireland going in one direction.

But why stop there? There’s no point denying that Europe itself is far too corpulent, going nowhere, run by bureaucrats who seem to be gorging on an awful lot of pork products. What we need is a vision of a stronger, leaner, fitter, outward-looking Europe. Here I draw inspiration from the inspirational story of your friend and pupil Dr Bob Delmonteque. Look at him! Toned, muscular, fit as a butcher’s dog, and ninety years of age! He looks like he could rip a bull’s lungs out! Why can’t we have a Europe like Dr Bob ‘The Man From’ Delmonteque? The possibilities are endless. I have a vision of a muscular, manly vigorous Europe, where all negativity is abolished and in which institutions last a thousand years.

But I -we- need your help to achieve it. Time to step up to the plate, Mr Quinn.

Hugh Green

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September 2009
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